Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Hierarchy and Control of Knowledge

After my studies of the Library of Babel (http://alexwarrenarchitecture3.blogspot.com/) I watched 'The Name of The Rose', a film featuring a fictional library where books are controlled by the church. If the books contradicted the bible they were stored in a secret vault, a labyrinth, and were ultimately destroyed by the church to prevent people from ever reading the books.

This idea of control of knowledge, the hierarchy, appeals to me. The politics of know deserves to know what, and who decides who knows certain things is quite an interesting idea; and I have illustrated these ideas in a fictional reading environment of my own, as part of an intuitive response study.

If our knowledge is represented by a tower of books; where the taller your tower of books is, the more knowledge you have:


What is apparent is an instantaneous hierarchy of people who have different levels of knowledge. Do the heights of the towers, the amount of knowledge relate to intelligence? Not necessarily. Do they relate to a sense of hierarchy or self-superiority? They could do. 

Intellectuals and non-intellectuals are on towers of very differing heights. There is a sense of isolation between the two people. They find it hard to converse with each other, because of the height, because of the vast difference in knowledge. Perhaps those at the top do not care for the struggles of people below them; only concentrating on competing with those on similar towers. Who can build the tallest tower? Those on the tallest towers could even feel that their wealth of knowledge makes them an advanced, even an evolved lifeform of the people at the bottom. Knowledge is always evolving...



I used this idea of visual hierarchy to create the fictional reading environment below.


The books at the top of the image represent all the books being written, being published. Essentially all the material, whatever format, that could be read or absorbed. Below are all the readers, the people standing on their knowledge towers. In the centre of these towers stands the tallest tower - the person on top of it has more knowledge than everyone below them. They see all the books passing down to those below, so ultimately the person on the tallest tower has the power to stop distribution of certain books, to cut the strings, to dictate what others read. 

The idea that the dictators, the librarians, having the power to control knowledge is barely different to the monks controlling which books found their way into the bookshelves of the monastery in 'The Name of The Rose'. This is always how it has been... the people at the top control what people at the bottom have access to. This hierarchy of knowledge is a concept that I am interested in, and something I intend to challenge in my final design project this year. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

New Spatial Diagrams


Removing a few lines of text on a sheet, I have drawn new diagrams to describe the basic spatial layouts of my building:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Portfolio Review

For my portfolio review I have simplified my masterplan process into diagram form, removing a paragraph of text. This was not highlighted in my feedback but I felt it would improve my presentation:

The four diagrams represent the current site, new routes, radial piazza study and the 7 masterplan plots respectively.



I also stitched together a number of images creating an aerial view of the island with my section of the masterplan, site A, highlighted in the centre:






I then took photographs of my 1:250 scale volumetric model within my masterplan in the wider context of Serenella. Disappointingly not all the masterplan blocks were present when I took the photos, but the 7 masterplan designs were all designed to line up with each other.




Referring to my feedback, I made diagrams showing the basic layout of my building, showing simply that I (in order) made the ground floor very public, stacked the services, and located waiting areas next door to therapy rooms so patients’ family/friends/carers would always be close by. 




I then built a makeshift photography studio in university (complete with hired lighting equipment) and used a combination of my dad’s old Pentax SLR film camera and my girlfriend’s Canon digital SLR to capture some photos of my 1:100 wooden model and my concrete volumetric model:




I had planned to construct my final model out of a solid block of concrete, but my volumetric experiment above taught me that there was just too much detail at 1:100 scale for this to be appropriate. The wooden model only took 2 days to build in the workshop, an experience I really enjoyed… it was a nice break from the computer screen.


Finally my feedback sheet reminded me that I needed to produce an image showing the view from the courtyard looking into the performance space. I also thought this was a good opportunity to show the closed fa├žade at night when the building would not be open to the public:
 



I decided to heavily populate the daytime render with people facing away from the camera to make the focal point of my image be the performance space.

In the dusk render I added people walking through the site, but not directly engaging with the building; to show that the public would not use the building after dark. However I added a light in the staff training room above to hint that the staff would use the building in the evenings.

Both images are quite bright because the printers in the studio don’t really respond well to low lighting conditions – my first printing test resulted in a very black night image so I am trying to strike a balance between it looking good on screen and on paper.